Whole Grains for Baby and Children – Why and How to Introduce
Whole grains are one of the best sources of fibre, protein and carbohydrates that your child would need as a part of their healthy diet. Whole grains come in different sizes, shapes, colours and most importantly taste. There are typical ways to prepare them which are as varied as the place in which they are grown. They are also rich in vitamins and many minerals. It is widely suggested by the doctors that this food should form the major part of the energy for a child. Replacing refined ingredients with whole grains while cooking is a good way of introducing children to consume whole grains.
What are Whole Grains?
A grain of any cereal containing the parts bran, germ and endosperm is known as a whole grain. Unlike the refined cereals which contain only the endosperm, whole grains are a nutritious option for babies and older children. The outermost layer of the whole grain is known as bran. It contains the nutrients niacin, thiamin, iron, zinc and riboflavin. It is also very rich in fibre. The second layer, known as a germ, is also known to be a good source of vitamins and proteins. The third layer, known as the endosperm, is rich in protein and carbohydrate.
Why Should Whole Grains be Given to Children?
Whole grains are bursting with vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fibre which are essential for your child’s growth. The nutrients reduce the chances of developing chronic ailments such as heart disease, certain types of cancers and even diabetes. The fibre in the grains makes your child feel satiated thereby controlling snacking.
When to Introduce Whole Grains to Your Child?
This chart will guide you when to introduce whole grains to your child
|Age Group and Frequency|
|6 months||1yr||2yr||3 yr|
|Oats||3- 4 tbsp; 1 – 2 times a week||4 8 tbsp; once a day||1/4th cup; every day||½ cup every day|
|Brown rice||½ cup; 2 times a week||1 serving; 1 – 2 times a week||1 serving; 1-2 times a week||1 serving; 2- 3 times a week|
|Millet||½ cup; 2 times a week||1 serving; 2-3 times in a week||1 serving; 2-3 times in a week||1 serving; 2-3 times in a week|
How to Introduce Whole Grains into Your Child’s Diet?
The key to introducing whole grains into your child’s food is by making a healthy choice and being mindful of the ingredients that are being used for the meals they eat.
1. Use a Good Mix of Grains
It is usually seen to benefit if you are able to mix refined grains with whole grains to your daily dishes. This would be a good way to introduce the picky eaters to a slightly heavier texture and flavour of whole grains. Nowadays, you can also find whole grain rice for baby and whole grain baby cereal in the market specifically for smaller children.
2. Healthy Baking
Try replacing the refined flours with more whole grains like spelt, rye or whole wheat while baking. Is your child fussy? Replace half of the quantities initially to retain that familiar flavour and texture.
3. Opt for Convenient Food which is Not Processed
With our busy lifestyles, it’s easier to find solace in fast food. But try not to go that way, instead buy food that is convenient and healthy too. Introduce your children to quinoa bread or rye crackers or cereal bars made of sesame seeds.
4. Give Your Day a Healthy Start
Breakfast is the best time to start your day on a healthy note. Oatmeal , whole grain bread for baby, or buckwheat pancakes give your child the much-needed boost to carry out all their activities throughout the day. Some stores even sell whole grain baby oatmeal for smaller kids.
5. Use Your Creativity To Add A Side Dish
Introducing children to creative side dishes while they enjoy their favourite meals are a great way to get them to eat some whole grains. Whole grain bread with a soup or stew is a very good option for a wholesome meal.
Easy and Healthy Whole Grain Recipes
With increasing options of easy junk food that are available outside, it becomes a daunting task to make your kids to eat healthy and homemade meals. Encouraging your child to eat whole grain food helps them develop a healthy habit from a very young age. We will share with you handy tips which will make even the pickiest eaters fall in love with whole grain food.
1. Oats Porridge
This is one of the best whole grain recipes for toddlers.
- Rolled oats: ½ cup
- Milk: 1 cup
- Sugar: as per taste
- In a pan, mix the oats and water together with milk.
- Put the pan on the stove and heat it on a low or medium flame.
- Add sugar as per taste.
- Keep stirring.
- The mixture will turn thick in consistency.
- Remove from heat and serve hot.
2. Plain Khichdi
This is a delicious one-pot meal for your baby.
- Rice: 2 tbsp
- Moong Dal: 2 tbsp
- Salt: As per taste
- Turmeric: 1 pinch
- Wash the rice and dal under running water.
- Put all the ingredients in the cooker.
- Place the cooker on the stove and put it on medium flame.
- Cook it for 3-4 whistles.
- Rest it for 5 minutes and serve with a tsp of ghee.
For older children, these recipes can be a healthy alternative.
3. Moong Dal Khichdi with Vegetables
Vegetables are a nice addition to Moong Dal Khichdi as they provide the necessary energy to your baby.
- Rice: ½ cup
- Moong Dal: ½ cup
- Salt: as per taste
- Turmeric: 1 pinch
- Ghee: 1tsp
- Cumin: 1 Tsp
Mixed cut vegetables: ½ cup (carrot, beans, cauliflower)
- Wash the rice and dal under running water
- Heat the cooker on the stove.
- Put the ghee and cumin seeds in it.
- When the spluttering of the cumin seeds start, add all the vegetables and saute them.
- Add the rice and dal and ½ cup of water.
- Cook it for 3-4 whistles.
- Remove from stove and serve hot with a tsp of ghee on top (optional).
These are soft and fluffy pancakes with or without stuffing.
- Dosa batter: 1 packet
- Salt to taste
- Oil/Ghee: To grease the idli moulds
- Grease the idli moulds with ghee
- Fill the pot with little water and put it on the stove.
- Give a nice whisk to the dosa batter and mix salt.
- Pour 1 ladle full in the idli mould.
- Let it steam for 10 mins.
- Insert a knife in the idlis and see if it comes out clean.
- Remove the mould from the steamer and let it stand for 5 mins.
- Serve hot with coconut chutney.
Healthy food is a key to overall growth and development of a child. We should try to increase the intake of whole grains in our children’s diet gradually. Remember to seek the advice of your paediatrician before you make any changes or introduce any new food in your child’s diet.